What’s for lunch today? When does Thanksgiving break start? Is there a math assignment tonight? These questions and more can be answered via smartphone when schools and parents communicate via apps.

There are many apps available, with varying degrees of customization and integration with other technology. All of the apps aim to increase parent engagement while helping teachers save time.

Here’s an overview of a few available apps.

ClassDojo

The ClassDojo app is a sort of social media platform for schools and their families. Once a teacher adds a student to her class, parents use a special code to sign up for access. Teachers can post photos and videos from class and school activities, award and subtract points for behavior and send private messages to parents.

Older students can access the app with their own account, where they can share their work in an online portfolio. Parents can comment on and like teachers’ posts and check for homework assignments and school or class announcements.

Remind

The Remind app touts itself as the end of the days of sorting through a jumble of papers sent home from school announcing everything from picture day to fundraisers to parent-teacher conferences. In fact, its marketing tagline is “School communication shouldn’t be so hard.”

The app focuses on messaging, with the ability to send text messages to any phone and translate messages into 70 languages. Messages can include attachments such as PDFS, voice files or photos, and messages can be scheduled ahead of time.

Teachers can communicate the best times for parents to reach them and see who has read each message. Parents who volunteer at their child’s school can connect and coordinate with other parents, and students can work together via Remind.

Bloomz

The Bloomz app advertises itself to teachers as “One app for all your parent communication.” Aside from giving teachers the ability to keep parents up to date on the class’ activities, Bloomz also can help facilitate sign-ups for volunteers and donations, as well as providing behavior tracking and calendar syncing for busy parents.

Security

Most of the school-home communication apps available take children’s privacy and security seriously. They require security codes for signup and don’t allow anyone not associated with a student’s classes to gain access to their information.

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